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tv   Early Start With John Berman and Christine Romans  CNN  May 20, 2016 1:00am-2:01am PDT

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their words should have credibility so people are not all over the place. >> we are confused. we don't know the truth. some tell us it fell in the sea. some say it is in the air. some say it didn't fall. some say the black box is communicating signals. where's the truth? it's with god. we don't know anything. >> you have been watching cnn live from atlanta. i'm natalie allen. >> i'm george howell. "early start" continues now with christine romans and john berman live from new york. breaking news. investigators working to unravel the mystery of what happened to egyptair flight 804 and the 66 people on board. the plane vanishing more than 24 hours ago. our live team coverage begins now. i'm boris sanchez. >> i'm christine romans. it is friday, may 20th.
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we welcome viewers here in the u.s. and around the world. breaking news at this hour. the search for the missing egyptair flight 804. it vanished more than 24 hours ago. 66 passengers and crew on board on the way from paris to cairo. the plane disappeared from radar. crews from five countries are combing the eastern mediterranean for any sign of wreckage. so far none has been found. earlier reports have been proven wrong. that said, the working theory is the plane was downed by a bomb and terror investigation is under way. at this point, there has been no claim of responsibility. we are covering the story only cnn can. we want to start in egypt with cnn's becky anderson live at cairo international airport. becky.
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>> reporter: christine, the egyptians said it is more likely this plane was downed by a terrorism act than it was by a technical fault. of course, at present, this is still a missing plane. a search and rescue operation significant in its scope, still ongoing. it is still officially search and rescue. although with a little less help from greek authorities than that which the egyptians had yesterday. this search and rescue is run by the egyptians. the greek authorities in the past couple hours have pulled the frigate out of the search and rescue which had been involved in the past 24 hours or so. they also said that the zone where the search and rescue is going on is too far away for greek cot guard to be involved. this is something like 230
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kilometers southeast of crete island. the greeks said there a c-130 aircraft involved and other aircraft stationed in crete. the french investigators have arrived here at cairo airport this morning and a technical investigator from airbus, which is the company that made the plane. a lot of confusion and still more questions than answers. we know at this stage that egyptair flight 804 disappeared en route from charles de gaulle to cairo with 66 people on board. as you point out, the theory of u.s. government officials this was terrorism. this plane was taken down by a bomb. authorities frankly have no evidence to substantiate that. just to point perhaps significantly on how quickly the egyptian authorities have been prepared to say they also believe this is terrorism.
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that might be an effort to avoid the sort of accusations of a lack of transparency that were levied at the egyptians you remember after the downing of the russian metro jet that took off from sharm el sheikh which is a beach resort in november. it was six months or so before the investigation was completed and about four months before the egyptians were prepared to talk about terrorism. a much, much quicker suggestion this time. perhaps that in an effort to show transparency. with what we know is the egyptian president el sisi has pulled in assets from the military and navy. that is it as far as the story. many more questions still than answers. back to you. >> all hands on deck for what
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will be a herculean investigation. thank you, becky. investigators in france are doing their part to figure out what brought down 804. they will interview air crews and anyone who had access to the airplane at the airport. for the latest let's bring in max foster. he is live at charles de gaulle airport in france. max, there are security concerns with personnel before at that airport, right? >> reporter: there have been. after the terror attacks in november in paris. 70 people had their passes taken away to allow them to go air side. they are not allowed to go air side anymore. the french government is saying today because of that terror attack and the one earlier in the year, the brussels terror attack, each time they have these big european terror attacks, security levels at
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charles de gaulle are ramped up further. arguably one of the safest airports in the world right now. that is extraordinary that a possible device was slipped on the airplane here. here is what the french foreign minister had to say a couple hours ago. >> translator: i think we must be careful at this stage. twice i spoke to my counterpart and he did not say that to me. he said we have to speak in complete transparency. there is a total cooperation with egypt and france. >> reporter: so they are not ruling outer or. it is one of the lines of investigation. we expect if they were following the lines of investigation, christine, to be quiet about it and follow-up the leads and not report too much to the media anyway. it is too early to say. we are waiting out for official announcements from here. >> in the very beginning stages
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of the investigation. thank you, max. right now, teams from egypt, france, britain and the u.s. combing the mediterranean 130 nautical miles of karthpos. joining us with the search is elinda labropoulou. >> reporter: they are scanning where the last signal was traced. in many ways and despite the great effort, right now, we know less than we thought we did about what happened when initially debris was reported to
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have been located south of the island of crete. greek experts have said detected floating objects were not from the airbus. egyptian authorities connected that. now we are back to square one. with greece at the center of the investigation, the greek air traffic controllers were the last people to talk to the pilot. at the time, he reported no problems of any kind in greek air space. the greeks were the last ones to try to contact the pilot as they were leaving greek air space and receive no response and alert the egyptian authorities. since then, greek defense minister said the report of the plane swerving in the air before dropping to under 10,000 feet
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where the radar lost signal. this is all the information we have on this. greek asked countries to continue in the effort to contribute with any satellite information and have said it will continue with the operations for as long as necessary. >> elinda, thank you. >> what is involved in such a search and weather may play a role. joining us with the latest is meteorologist derek van dam in the weather center. how is the weather now? >> at the moment, clear conditions. boris and christine, take a look at the extremely busy marine traffic across the search region. here is greece. 650 vessels at the moment scouring that area. not every one of them in the official capacity for searching for the particular region. regardless, several authoritative boats combing the
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area. the depths within this region, if there is a vessel on the sea floor, 11,000 feet below the sea surface. when we had last contact with the airplane was clear. look what is starting to move in from the central mediterranean. we have a disturbance which has the potential to pick up waves on the ocean and the potential to bring in precipitation and pick up the winds. that is going to hinder the operation. there is a cold front pressing through. it is not particularly strong, but any weather will make things more difficult. we anticipate winds to pick up from 25 miles an hour to 45 miles an hour local time. that is something they will consider as they scour this region. of course, the one thing they will hone in on is that black box. christine and boris. >> thank you, derek.
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>> there is still no sign of flight 804. what could have happened to the missing plane? we are breaking down all of the leading scenarios next. if you have medicare parts a and b and want more coverage, guess what? you could apply for a medicare supplement insurance plan whenever you want. no enrollment window. no waiting to apply. that means now may be a great time to shop for an aarp medicare supplement insurance plan, insured by unitedhealthcare insurance company. medicare doesn't cover everything. and like all standardized medicare supplement
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we continue to follow the disappearance of egyptair flight 804. still no sign of debris from the missing jetliner more than 24 hours after it vanished from radar. four possible scenarios are investigated. was it a bomb smuggled on board? was it an inside threat? did a catastrophic technical malfunction take place or misconduct on the part of the pilot or crew member? let's bring in les abend. thank you for joining us this early. officials are saying they are
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suspicious this is terrorism. there is no smoking gun, but conditions have led them there. you are hesitant to go that far. >> well, you know, my gut feeling when i saw this whole situation unfold was something catastrophic happened for the airplane to fall out of the sky like all of us did. at the end of the day, accident investigation is about finding evidence. let's not be sold on this bomb theory. let's think there are other things involved. we all got involved with the discussion of germanwings. we never in a million years would thought of going in that direction. i'm not saying this is the same thing that andre lubitz did. that was a direction nobody wanted to go. here we are now. i was looking at different, let's go back to the technical part until we have evidence. >> the issue is we don't have evidence. that's the reason why
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authorities are leaning toward terrorism is the top issue because of airport security and the heightened intensity with which terrorists want to attract airlines and this flight was cruising at 37,000 feet. the part of the flight where something is least likely to happen. there is no evidence yet. >> correct. i wrote an op-ed piece in cnn.com today. i said slow down and think about this. one theory i wrote out was a hypoxia situation. the radar evidence may not prove it. we have almost a 40-minute span between the last communication and when there was another attempt and the airplane fell out of the sky. if we had an insidious situation
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where oxygen was leaking out of the cabin, hypoxia people react strangely. they cannot do simple math. did the crew react after getting not knowing in you can get euphoric in a hypoxic situation. did they react to a situation mechanically that was a check list and did not do it appropriately and lost control of the airplane because of that? it may be far fetched, but let's think along those directions or was there an attention. did the air speed get so low and they did a stall and attempt to recover ala air france 441 and the discussion we had in the past. >> you say far fetched, but by definition, it was far fetched because the planes are made to have multiple redundancies. >> fail saves.
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>> and the airplane corrects with pilot inputs. an example, a bank situation. the airplane will stop the pilot from banking the airplane over 35 degrees. in addition to preventing it from doing a stall. if the automation is on, all of these things are available. >> i specifically wanted to ask you about that. if the airbus doesn't allow you to bank more than 35 degrees, what do we make of these indications that the plane was swerving 90 degrees and 360 degrees? what does that tell yyou? >> that's a great question. at that point, the airplane may not have been in control of the crew and automation shutdown. something catastrophic occurred. could have been an explosive device on board. maybe what we are seeing on radar is the process of the airplane breaking up. >> we are making assumptions that the early data is correct.
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as we have seen in other air emergencies or tragedies, sometimes the early reads are not correct. >> correct. >> from this point forward, where does the investigation focus? they need to find the wreckage first. >> this airplane is a composite airplane. in simple terms, a lot of construction and plastic. a lot of different materials go into composite. it makes it lighter and more efficient to fly. that causes a problem. some of the pieces may float. there is not a lot. we might find the tail floating. the wings have engines attached to them. as the time progresses, this stuff will start sinking and we will not find the evidence. >> it is a race against time. les, thank you for your expertise. the disappearance of egyptair flight 804. the third flight disaster in the past year. in past tragedies, officials
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have been less than forth womco. what lessons have been learned? we are live next.
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the disappearance is egypt's third aviation disappearance in a year. it took the egyptians months that the russian jetliner was downed by a bomb. can the egyptians be relied on to conduct a transparent investigation? joining us is cnn's ben wedeman.
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he has covered egypt since 1999. good morning, ben. >> reporter: good morning, christine. egyptian investigators on a technical level, i think, can be trusted. they are fairly competent. many trained in the united states. it is at political level where things become complicated. i remember in 1999 we covered the crash of flight 990 which left 217 people dead. egyptian officials for months were fighting the suggestion or the notion that the plane might have been brought down by pilot error. of course, when the flight voice and data recorders were recovered, it became clear the copilot took down the plane. crashed it into the sea in a case of suicide. to this day, egyptian officials still are fighting at that
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basically that was the conclusion of the ntsb report. what we're seeing is after these three disasters, the metrojetliner and hijacking of the airplane and now egyptair flight 804. egyptian officials seem to be more flexible. maybe they learned the lesson that denying to the case ad nauseam that terrorism is involved is not helping the situation. you have to realize of course one of the prime concerns is the impact the disasters have on tourism. at this point tourism in egypt is barely breathing. of course, a case of national pride. egyptians with their multi-thousand year history is sensitive to suggest that their country is lacking when it comes to technical matters like investigating an air crash or running an airline for that matter.
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>> interesting that distention you made with the technical ability and the political ability and how they need to come together in the case. thank you, ben wedeman. the search continues to intensify as investigators try to unravel the mystery of what happened to egyptair flight 804. we have live team coverage from around the globe next. wanna drink more water? with sodastream you turn plain water into sparkling water in seconds. and because it's so delicious, you'll drink 43% more water every day. sodastream. love your water.
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breaking news now. more than a day after egyptair flight 804 vanished on the way from paris to cairo with 66 people on board. a mystery. intensifying search. the live team coverage begins now. welcome back to "early start." i'm christine romans. >> i'm boris sanchez. welcome to our viewers around the world. we are continuing the search for the missing egyptair flight 804.
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it vanished with more than 24 hours ago. it was on the way from paris to cairo. the plane disappearing 175 miles off the coast of egypt. crews from five countries are combing the eastern mediterranean for any sign of wreckage, but none has been found. officials in the u.s. found no indication of an explosion. that said, the working theory is the plane could have been downed by a bomb. a terror investigation is under way. at this point, there is no claim of responsibility from isis or any other terror organization. we are covering the story only the way cnn can. we start with becky anderson live at cairo international airport. what are the families telling you? >> reporter: frustrating. more questions than answers for the family members of those 66 people aboard egyptair flight
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804. this was a hive of activity yesterday set up as a semi permanent crisis center as you point out with medics and doctors on hand to provide infrastructure for family members. it was a relatively calm and controlled environment given what these family members are going through. frustration boiling over at times because of the discrepancy in detail. the family members were getting yesterday. do remember and it continues to be a search and rescue operation that is ongoing in the mediterranean at present. that provides some glimmer of hope still for the relatives who have been bussed away from here overnight. this morning, we expect they may be taken to a local hotel where egyptair will send its staff to work with them. i think the discrepancy and
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frustration with that is what really became apparent over the last 30 hours or so. the very fact that the greek authorities with the plane disappearing from the radar at 2:29 a.m. and 2:37. they say it swerved to the left and to the right. the egyptians have quite a different timeline. then there was a report and statement by the aviation minister of debris had been found. that comment then came back. the foreign minister stands corrected. can you imagine what the family members continue to go through? that is the real story from here. meantime, this file and this is significant, the file on this case as it were, has been moved from the chief prosecutor here in egypt to the state security
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prosecutor which would suggest one assumes, this is to be dealt with as a criminal case. you are right to point out that the president has demanded the search and rescue operation intensified. we learned that the greeks pulled back assets. suggesting their coast guard can't actually work outside of the limit as far as distance is concerned from the greek coast. the greeks have aircraft associated with the search and rescue as do the british and french. french officials arriving at the airport this morning in the past couple hours. cypriots as well. this continues in the mediterranean. i'm afraid for the families of those involved. the wait goes on. back to you. >> such a shame for them. thank you, becky anderson. investigators in france still trying to figure out what
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brought down egyptair flight 804. they will likely interview ground crews, air crews, anyone else who had access to the plane at the airport. for the latest on the airport security angle, let's bringn cnn's max foster. he is live at charles de gaulle airport in france. back in november, there was a terrorist attack right there in paris which really raised concerns about how secure the airport and transport system is in france. a country that has been soul searching to make sure it is safe. what do we know about the conditions at the airport now? is it safe? >> reporter: because of those occasions, those extraordinary occasions, two paris attacks and brussels attacks as well. they have been ramping up security at unprecedented levels. you are arguing you are putting one of the safest airports in
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the world and a flight co compromised and sabotaged. even now you have an extra layer of security. the entrance of the terminal. you have bag checks. there high levels of security. the issue at the moment, christine, we are relying on our sources. a formal investigation won't actually begin until they find a body of the victim of a french national. we obviously don't have that yet. officially, we are not hearing any big lines or announcements because any terror investigations are being done on the quiet. we are calling this a verification process. we can only assume is what they are doing is checking up on anyone who had contact with the aircraft as it stood on the ground here on the tarmac at charles de gaulle. passengers and air crew and others who had contact, they are tracking back. we know from the washington sources that officials in the
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u.s. are coordinating with france and egypt. any potential culprits cannot get away too far. they are working on a theory that the aircraft was compromised. they are looking at other possible causes of the crash as well. they are not highlighting this terror issue at the moment. >> thank you, max foster. they are looking at every place the aircraft went earlier that day and prior flights. right now, teams from france, greece and britain are combing the eastern mediterranean. 170 nautical miles south of karpathos. hoping to find any signs of flight 804. joining us now is elinda labropoulou. what are they telling you?
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>> reporter: it is a large international team taking part. military aircraft scanning the area. they are working with the egyptians and other forces. they are saying many marine ships in the area following normal routes have also joined in. it is a very big operation that's now under way. of course, we are looking at over 24 hours since the incident happened. the greek authorities are telling us every minute really matters. in essence, we know less than yesterday. at some point yesterday, we thought debris had been found. greek officials and egyptians said none of the floating objects had been identified were from the aircraft. what we have now, we can only go back to what greece said. greece being the country that had the last contact with the
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pilot of the plane when it was in greek air space. the pilot confirming everything was fine. then the greeks being the first to alert their egyptian counterparts. the plane was no longer responding as it crossed into egyptian air space. the greek defense minister has come out and said that the plane seems to have swerved mid air and plunged before the radar. the greek radar lost signal as it got into egyptian air space. they are asking for satellite information from other countries. they are saying they will do all they can to get to the bottom of this. >> still many questions of the last moments the plane was on radar and how it swerved. elinda, thank you. >> what are the challenging searching a huge area? could weather hamper the hunt? we have more from meteorologist derek van dam in the cnn weather center. >> boris and christine, this is
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still considered a search and rescue operation. weather at the moment is a consideration. so are the water temperatures for the potential for survivors in the water. 65 to 72 degrees fahrenheit over the eastern mediterranean as we speak. if we consider the survival rate for this type of water temperature, 60 to 70 degrees, it depends if you are healthy, young, or elderly individual, it depends. roughly from 2 hours to 40 hours. this is the area they are scouring at the moment. south and east of crete and karpathos islands. the weather conditions will start to change over the next 24 hours. this could potentially hamper the search and rescue operation that is ongoing across the area. i do expect the winds to pick up. i do expect the choppy seas to be a factor. perhaps 1 to 2 meter swells.
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you can see the potential for wind gusts of 40 miles an hour as the cold front moves through the region. if they do and when they do start scouring the sea floor of the eastern mediterranean. it is interesting to note that the depth of the sea range from 8,000 to 11,000 feet. question go into the sea bed with google earth. this will allow for remotely operated vehicles to search for the sea floor for any signs of wreckage. back to you. >> the weather was clear at the time the plane disappeared. one reason why investigators think something happened on that plane potentially. a bomb or terrorist attack that brought it down. derek, thank you. almost a day and a half since egyptair flight 804 vanished. what happened here? we will break down all the leading theories next.
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back to breaking news coverage of the disappearance of egyptair flight 804. here is where things stand right now. still no sign of debris from the missing jetliner. more than 24 hours after it vanished from radar heading from paris to cairo. at least four possible scenarios are now being investigated. was a bomb smuggled on board? was an insider threat involved? did a catastrophic technical malfunction take place? or could it have been misconduct on the part of the pilot or crew member? let's bring in aviation specialist les abend. les, the plane is still missing here. we know some authorities, u.s. authority in particular, are working under the assumption this could be a terrorist act. if only the evidence.
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this was perfect weather. cruising altitude. >> the cruise flight is the no benign part. the safest part of the flight. if you have an emergency, you have time to take care of your particular problem. the scenario is something catastrophic occurred instantaneously. because we saw with the turns and the fact the airplane lost so much altitude in a quick period of time. that leads me to believe that these pilots were not in control of the aircraft or were unable to regain control of the aircraft. the bomb theory -- >> you think it is too early to zero in on one yet. >> yeah. accident investigation goes down certain paths based on evidence. you know, let's certainly put that, you know, at a high priority. let's look at other things.
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potentially could be some loss of control issues because of mechanical problem and the pilots were unable to overcome that situation because of the technicality. whatever it may have been and the airplane did a stall. there are other possibilities. >> sure. we were just talking about the break about the training the pilots received. both pilots had thousands of hours. 6,000 from the captain. you said because of the training they received, they may not have been experienced to handle the situation you were describing. >> first of all, 6,000 hours is a decent amount of time. i have been with my airline for years. i have 26,000 hours. a lot of folks in the united states have that time because we have been in the seats for a while. getting to your question, a lot of times these folks, you know,
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can only pull from a certain pool in their countries. and they are small countries. they get training in the united states. come back. they are trained for that specific airplane. the experience level of seeing different environments and different situations as far as weather is concerned. you know, they have not seen all that nor have they seen different functions with the airplane. they train for it. we train for the boilerplate stuff. something out of the ordinary that they are not used to with the airplane may not be something they're accustomed to and they may handle it, maybe not wrong, but differently than an experienced pilot who would sit back and say what's going on with my airplane. just put his hands down and assess the situation before you rush into it. >> so interesting. if it is something that happens before -- the pilot has no control of what is happening at the airport before they get
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there. we do know that terror groups in a variety of countries in yemen and other countries have succeeded in getting inside airplanes. >> you bring up a good point. it's not quite transparent to me. i have to trust the fact that everybody involved in the security process is doing their job. for me, a lot of times, the result i see is a piece of paper clipped to my control yolk that says the security check has been completed. i have to go with that fact. or my walk around inspection. i look at the cargo. >> you do the -- the pilot will go around. you look at cargo? >> the captain or first officer will do a walk-around inspection to see the condition of the aircraft. we can see if something is amiss. >> les, thank you for that.
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great expertise. thank you. the disappearance of egyptair flight 804 is egypt's third flight disaster in the past year. if past tragedies, officials have been less than transparent. what can we expect this time? we're live next.
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we have urgent breaking news to bring you. moments ago, we heard from egyptian armed forces. they found debris which they think is egyptair flight 804. obviously, yesterday there was confusion if debris was found. it later turned out this was not debris from the plane. this is confirmation. this debris is linked to flight 804. this is egypt's third aviation
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disaster. it follows the plane bombing from cyprus and the sharm el sheikh last november. it took months to say that plane was downed by an isis bomb. can the egyptians be relied on to conduct a candid investigation of the plane's disappearance. joining us is ben wedeman. he covered air disasters since 1999. egyptair is not foreign to these type of attacks, right, ben? >> reporter: no. in fact, going back to 1999 with the crash of egyptair flight 990, off the coast of long island, that flight disaster leaving 217 people dead. initially the egyptian authorities ruling out there may have been human error or terrorism. i remember the day of the incident. the egyptian official telling me with a straight face the plane
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diverted to edwards air force base in southern california. as the investigation proceeded and the voice and data recorders were recovered from the bottom of the sea, it turned out that the copilot took the plane down. essentially committed suicide and killed the other 216 people on board. to this day, egyptian officials deny that scenario. i think what we're seeing, boris, is certain evolution of the official egyptian approach to these disasters. as you mentioned, three incidents within one year. i think what we're seeing is a willingness to perhaps consider the very good possibility, although, it is by no means confirmed. perhaps it was some sort of terrorist plot that brought down egyptair flight 804. it is important to keep in mind many of the egyptian investigators have received some
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training in the united states. these are competent people. often times there is a difference between what the technical level says and what the politicians and others, the government officials say, who have other concerns. concerns about the state of tourism in egypt, which has taken a nose dive in recent years and certainly after the metrojetliner incident, it is down dramatically. boris. >> the distinction with the technical and political implications. ben wedeman. breaking news. the egyptian military, a spokesperson saying some debris from egyptair has been found. including passenger belongings. "early start" continues right now. >> announcer: this is cnn breaking news. >> our breaking news right now. egyptian officials claiming they have found some debris of the missing air

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